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The Grey Market

The Grey Market

If you're in marketing, advertising or in the PR business, you might notice that majority of efforts (time and money) is mainly spent on targeting the rapidly growing millennial market. Everyone is scampering for alternative solutions because compared to previous generations,  these youths tend to be much less responsive and immune to traditional marketing methods. So it doesn't come as a surprise that other demographic groups are neglected.

What about the baby boomers and senior citizens? It's a relatively sizable market that seemingly gets overlooked mainly because, all brands typically strive to have a 'cool' or luxurious public image in today's market.

Sanjay Chadha, CEO and founder of Safety Labs, a company that caters to the senior market with an innovative medical alert device that can be used both in and out of the home, say that this grey market can be rather attractive if you look at it in a different angle. He agrees that seniors are very practical buyers but they are increasingly just as tech-savvy as millennials. Senior are leading active lives too and we need to acknowledge that before we can start selling to them.

Seniors Like to Shop Online

The prevailing stereotype of seniors being technology illiterate and constantly reply on their grandchildren for help to operate their electronic gadgets cannot be more wrong. Based on a formal survey done, 41 percent of millennials spend more than 15 hours a day online, 51 percent of seniors are doing so too.

Seniors represent about a third of all social media users, and those aged 50 and older spend about $7 billion a year online, with boomers using the Internet as their primary means of comparison shopping.

Why Market to Seniors?

Focusing on selling to millennials would seem like something very attractive and fun. Their constant search for an identity forces them to follow current pop-culture trends thus, making it seem the most attractive market to tap on. It's also relatively more cost effective to market to them. They're less likely to respond to an advertisement on television or other traditional mediums, than they are to direct engagement and social media.

But what many companies fail to realise is that this current generation of millienials have significantly less money and fewer jobs compared to their parent's generation.

If you’re looking for buyers with disposable income, it’s no longer the young.

In America alone, seniors are spending way more each year on hobbies and entertainment than ever. By 2050, there will be 83.7 million people aged 65 and older. On average, seniors are the most affluent demographic of American society, with seniors having five times the net worth of the average American.

Best Practices to Market to Seniors

  • While seniors do respond to traditional advertisements, they are tech-savvy, and online and social media marketing should be included in the mix.
  • When creating products and services for seniors, keep in mind that they are more active than ever, and spending money on hobbies and entertainment.
  • The senior market is not one-size-fits-all. Marketing to 90 year olds will be different than marketing to 65 year old Baby Boomer — adjust your messaging to fit each sub-group.
  • Avoid superfluous “cute” marketing messages in favour of more straightforward marketing. “Reasons why” explanations, realistic messaging, and product endorsements from trusted individuals will work well.
  • Pay attention to the customer experience. Superior customer support and responsiveness is especially important — and don’t forget to stay in touch after a purchase has been made.